Monday, October 28, 2013

Miscellaneous Monday

It's the usual variety of doin's around here.

After teaching a selvages workshop last week, I am on a selvages kick again. Another small bag pattern I've been wanting to make seemed like just the right selvages project. I've gotten no further than sewing selvages to the foundation bag shapes. The large piece is the bag body. The two small pieces are outside pockets. When it's finished, it will be fun to use because if I've learned anything about carrying a selvage bag (I already have two of them), they're a sure-fire conversation-starter.

I have four new LED lights in my sewing room. Since there was no overhead light, and the kind of light kit that could be added to the fan couldn't provide adequate illumination, this was the way to go. I was pleased that the electrician knew enough about the subject to understand my request for lighting that would let me to see the true colors of fabrics in my stash cabinet. These LEDs are 3500 kelvin; not the typical 3000 kelvin used elsewhere in a home. It means they emit a more natural, bluer color (less yellow). An added bonus is that LEDs don't produce heat (important in a west-facing room in Florida!) and because LEDs don't have bulbs, they're expected to last 30 years.

I know, I know. The room looks almost too clean. I had to give it a thorough cleaning after the electrician drilled holes in the ceiling, layering everything with drywall dust. The design wall is empty, awaiting my next great project. Ha!

This is a picture I took a few evenings ago from the front of our house. We face west, so it's the same view I have through the bay windows of my sewing room. We're blessed with some pretty spectacular sunsets. This one was exceptional.

On Wednesday I'm welcoming a house guest! Edith is a special quilter-friend, from Switzerland. She's coming to stay for ten days. We're old friends. She visited me three times before, the last time being in 2008 when we still lived in Iowa.

How Edith and I met is a pretty cool story, if I do say so. We met through the Internet, back in its early years - 1994. At the time I was working at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. The Internet first blossomed in colleges, and employees were encouraged to use this new technology. I found a quilting chat room called Kaffee Klatch, and while sharing brief conversations with quilters I "met" Edith, thinking I'd found someone with whom I could practice my rusty French. Instead, I learned she was from the German-speaking part of Switzerland (east), but with a common interest in quilting, we became fast friends. When I graduated in 2000 from Drake University (as an employee, I took advantage of the opportunity for a free education) with a journalism degree, my May celebration included a visit from Edith. I'll admit that we were both nervous about our first face-to-face meeting. After all, we were committed to her spending ten days with me! But we very quickly learned our fears were ungrounded.
2000 - R: Edith; L: me
Since our first meeting, I visited her in 2002. This is us in Ste Marie-Aux-Mines, France, attending the European Patchwork Meeting.
Edith also visited in 2004 and 2008 with the last visit planned so we could attend the AQS show in Des Moines, where both of us had quilts juried into that show!

So for the next couple of weeks, the little sewing I expect to do will be on my Riley Blake Challenge piece. I'm hand appliquéing.

Speaking of hand appliqué... I regularly follow my Instagram feed, and I was excited to see pictures from quilters attending quilt market. Several of them were impressed with the hand-appliqué of one particular modern quilter who is doing what she calls "slow sewing" - Carolyn Friedlander. This is her modern hand appliqué piece.

I'm really interested to see what she's introducing to younger quilters. Is the latest trend heading toward hand appliqué? I'm also hoping my LQS will be stocking Carolyn's latest fabric line from Robert Kaufman: Botanics. Love it!

Also, as an admirer of Emma Jansen's designs, I'm hoping her new fabric line, the pretty Terra Australis, makes its way here too. I will always have special feelings for that country, having been able to visit and spend a total of four months there. Love the country; love Emma's patterns and fabric designs.

How nice to have so many quilty things, and a quilty person's visit, to anticipate! Linda

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Coral Sea Hexagons

Another great-niece was born this past week, our second girl this year. I'm grateful for every opportunity to make a girl quilt because, in case you didn't know, we're expecting our fourth grandson this coming January! I'm plenty practiced at making boy quilts.

Knowing our great niece's room would be done in an ocean theme, in coral and aqua, I bought a few pieces of Michael Miller's By the Sea with the rest from my stash cupboard. A flamingo print keeps showing up in a bunch of my quilty projects! 

Baby Reese's quilt has been finished for several weeks, just waiting for a label. Until then, it was the quilt I used for several demonstrations: how to sew binding to a quilt, for a First Time Quiltmaking class; suggested free motion quilting designs, for a Free Motion Quilting workshop; and how to sew hexagons, a program for members of our Central Florida MQG. Now it's a gift! I guess I got a lot of mileage from it.

If you find yourself wanting to make an all-hexagons quilt, be sure to look up Kati's great "How to Piece Hexagons tutorials" (parts 1 and 2) on her blog: FromtheBlueChair. It's the method I used, and it saved me lots of time that I would have spent marking each piece with quarter-inch-from-the-edge dots.

The quilt back is a pretty piece of ombre. I split the piece down the middle and added a coral-colored print.

Instead of quilting with an all over design, I divided the quilt into tri-sections and quilted something a little different in each. Since I couldn't bear to quilt over the flamingos, I quilted around them.


Saturday, October 19, 2013

More Randomness

I wrapped up last week by teaching an all-day free motion quilting workshop, through The LifeLong Learning College, with these lovely women. Four of them are in the same Quilting Guild of The Villages chapter I am. They only protested a little when I asked them to hold up their practice sandwiches for this picture.

What you can't see in the above picture is this practice piece by Tina. What a great sense of humor!

No matter what she wrote there, I have a strong feeling she's going to take to fmqing, as will everyone in this group.

At the end of a fmq workshop, quilters share their quilt top(s) so we can talk about possible quilting designs. Karen's table runner was fair game for trying out several designs, using an acrylic sheet overlay and dry erase markers.

On Saturday, the weather was so beautiful that we decided to golf cart on all our errands. This lovely tunnel of live oaks, dripping with Spanish moss, was the prettiest section of the multimodal path.

At one point we stopped the cart to take this photo. This plum-colored grass is so pretty, I had my picture taken with it.

It's very rare that we eat at a restaurant, but on our way back home, we decided to stop at Lighthouse Point, a restaurant with outdoor seating on Lake Sumter. Look who meandered past during our lunch.

We'd heard of this fella, but in 16 months of living here hadn't yet had the pleasure of seeing him. This sight will keep me for a long time.

On the home front, I'm digging into my Riley Blake Challenge project. In an unusual occurrence for me, I actually had two ideas! I settled on the one that involves lots of small round pieces. They're machine-sewn, with plain white on the back, then turned inside out.

"That's totally tubular." (Meaning: Very cool. Rad.) I say, "That's totally circular!"  Ha!


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Some of This; Some of That

Giving a modern quilt guild program about hexagons, and teaching has been taking up a lot of my time, but I never give that time begrudgingly. I always enjoy sharing what I know - and don't know - about quilting. Even after 35 years of quiltmaking, I can pick up an occasional tip or new bit of knowledge. 

So, when I found some personal sewing time over the weekend (last weekend) I used it to catch up on some obligation sewing. 

This is Elizabeth's block for the October Mid-Century Modern Bee. We're "Mid-Century" because all 13 of us in the bee are 50 years old and better. Catch that word? "Better." For sure! 

Elizabeth selected a variety of blocks for us to sew, all of them in greens and Kona snow, because she's making Santa's Village. My block contribution is called Memory Star.
12-1/2" X 12-1/2" unfinished, and my signature block
Four of our Central Florida MQG chapter members are sewing BOM blocks being offered by Bay Area MQG. This month's block is Woven, and I like it.
12-1/2" X 12-1/2" unfinished
Also over the weekend I made a plain white bedskirt for the guest room bed. I've been wanting one since we moved here 16 months ago, and never got around to it. Yes, I could have bought a bedskirt, but I've seen only single-layer fabric ones that usually don't fit the bed very well. Mine's sewn with an old flat sheet in the middle (between the box springs and mattress). The outside of the skirt is white Kona, and it's lined with washed, bleached muslin. It took a little math to figure out how long to make each side, and then how frequently and how deep to sew each box pleat, but so worth it. At the end of this month, a special guest is visiting me from Switzerland and the room is ready for her! (The guest room quilt is Friendship Medallion, a free pattern from an Australian online shop that is no longer in business.)

Have you noted, as I have, that selvages are looking prettier? Riley Blake in particular is being creative with their color windows. When was the last time you saw a phone like that?!

Speaking of selvages... yesterday I led a three-hour workshop: "Salvage Those Selvages!" I shared with 11 women how to sew selvages to make two different, simple blocks. 

Some of the quilters came up with their own versions, admittedly "happy accidents," that looked better than the original! This is the kind of quilting creativity I really appreciate.

After sewing selvages to each 9" background square, the block could be trimmed to 8-1/2" for sewing into a square pillow. In this picture, not all the combination of blocks belong to one another, but they do look good, don't they? 

Such a nice group of women they were too! I went into the class previously knowing only one person, and left several hours later certain I made new friends. Thank you, quilters!

Now for something really random.

I have these metal bottle caps. They're from Seagrams "Great Escape" flavored beers. You know, the low-alcohol, super-sweet drinks that come in flavors like Black Cherry Fizz, Mango, and Strawberry Daiquiri? I've been saving them for months, for one obvious reason - those palms. The caps are too darned cute to toss out! But I can't think of a single thing I might do with them. Suggestions?

I will have more caps as I slowly progress through the case of Seagrams! Linda

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Fast-Paced Fun

Life is going hurrier, I'm moving faster, and I'm having a blast!

This happy email popped into my inbox today:
This means that for the next ten months, wherever there's an American Quilter's Society (AQS) show, "Buckles and Belts" will be on exhibit. Wow! I can't believe it!

Buckles and Belts was my Madrona Road Challenge finish back in January.

39-1/2" X 49-1/2"
I put lots of free motion quilting into it.

And... did you notice my new blog header? I had the pleasure of working with the very talented graphic designer, Emma, of ETM Creative to come up with this logo/header that will also be on my new social cards. Emma was a treat to work with, and you can see how she pegged my interests and color preferences. The stylized palm came from my own photo of the Bismarck palm in my front yard. How cool is that?!

This afternoon saw the last class of First Time Quiltmaking students. Nearly all of them came with finished quilts, and posed for this great photo in the entry vestibule of The Villages High School. Yep, that's me in the middle.

Note: I don't teach appliqué in the beginner class. This very determined student chose her own pattern, and tackled hand appliqué during the five weeks of lessons. She's proof that if you have a can-do attitude, you can accomplish anything you want in a first-time class!

It's been a great week so far. But whew! I'm ready for some personal sewing time. Linda

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Edith Bag: A Tutorial

A preface to this 42-picture tutorial for The Edith Bag. First, thank you to those who commented in a previous post about wanting a tutorial for this cute bag designed by Edith Bieri of QuiltsUndMehr. Second, my apology for the color quality of the photos. The camera is top quality - a Canon S100 - so it's the lighting that's the problem. Most of these pictures were taken under a Reveal light bulb which casts a pink-ness on everything. (Perhaps that's appropriate! October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a cancer for which I have a newfound understanding.) I have now scheduled the installation of overhead LED can lights with daylight illumination, which will make a big difference in the quality of future photos.

The Edith Bag Tutorial

  • 10" X 10" fabric for outside cover
  • 10" X 10" fabric for lining
  • 10-1/2" X 10-1/2" fusible fleece 
  • 1-1/2" X 8" fabric for strap
  • 12" zipper
Cut out lining, fleece and strap.

Note that fusible fleece has a soft side (on right) and a fusible side (on left). On the fusible side, look and feel for rough dots that melt when ironed.

Create your own cover. These are a few examples.

You might English paper-pieced hexagons or sew a patchwork square. Then lay your created fabric on top of the fusible - soft fusible fleece side facing up (rough dots facing down) - and machine quilt. Or, stitch-and-flip sew with selvages, or fabric strips.

Create the Outside Cover
This tutorial shows stitch and flip sewing with fabric strips.

Place a fabric strip, print side up, on the soft side of the 10-1/2" X 10-1/2" fusible fleece; fusible dots are face down.

Lay a second fabric strip, print side down, on top of the first strip, aligning edges. Sew along the raw edge using a quarter-inch seam. I like to use my machine's walking foot to ensure that nothing slips out of place as I'm sewing.

Flip over the second strip. Finger press. Place a third strip, print side down, on the second strip. Sew. Continue in this manner until the entire fusible fleece square is covered with fabric.

With the fusible fleece side facing up, use a large ruler to square-up the entire piece to measure 10" X 10".

This completes your outside cover.

Sew In the Zipper
Open the 12" zipper. Place the zipper face down aligning the edge of the zipper with the edge of the outside cover (on right). The zipper teeth should point toward the inside (left). Pin.

Place the 10" X 10" lining fabric, print side down on top of the zipper. Align raw edges with the outside cover and zipper edges. Pin.

Change your sewing machine foot to a zipper foot. If needed, move the sewing machine needle to the far left. Sew, aligning the right side of the zipper foot with the raw edges. Remove pins ahead of your sewing so as not to accidentally run over a pin and break a needle.

Pin the opposite zipper side to the opposite side of the outside cover, aligning the edges. Check to make sure the zipper remains face down. The zipper teeth should point toward the inside (right). Pin.

Lay the opposite side of the lining, print side down, on top of the zipper, again aligning the raw edges. Pin.

Sew, aligning the right side of the zipper foot with the raw edges.

This is how it looks after sewing both sides of the zipper.

Turn right side out. The lining will be against the fusible fleece dots. Press to secure the lining, making sure the lining and outside cover are pressed away from the zipper.

Still using the zipper foot, edge stitch along the fold.

Open the zipper at least half way.

Turn right side in; lining out.

Make the Strap
Press in half the 1-1/2" X 8" strip.

Open the strip. Turn each long raw edge toward the center. Press.

Press long edges together.

Switch to a regular sewing machine foot. Edge stitch the strap.

Fold the strap in half and pin raw edges together.

Place the folded strap inside the bag on top of the zipper at the zipper end. Match the strap raw edges to the raw edges of the outside cover/lining.

Center the zipper. Pin together both open ends of the outside cover/lining.

Using your regular sewing machine foot, align the side of the foot with the raw edges. Sew each end through all layers. Backstitch at the beginning of the seam, over the zipper, and at the end of the seam.

Cut to remove the tail end of the zipper.

On each of the four corners, draw a box 3/4" from each edge.

Cut to remove these corners.

Set your machine to a wide zig-zag and shorten the stitch length. Stitch to overcast the raw edges at both ends.

Reset your sewing machine to a regular stitch. Fold each cut-out corner to position the end seam in the middle. Aligning the side of your regular sewing machine foot with the raw edge, sew, being sure to push the end seam allowance away from the zipper. Sew over the seam again.

Set your machine to a wide zig-zag and shorten the stitch length. Stitch to overcast raw edges on all four corners.

Turn right side out to admire your finished bag. Add a decorative ribbon or tag to the zipper tab.

The Edith Bag was designed by my dear friend Edith Bieri (QuiltsUndMehr) of Neftenbach, Switzerland. This tutorial was created with her permission. Linda


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